Evie (H Vanda/G Young) – Stevie Wright 1974
The teen adulation and pop chart-topping days of Stevie Wright as front-man for the Easybeats appeared to be over and Stevie had moved onto musical theatre and just completed a stint with the cast of Jesus Christ Superstar before reuniting with his old bandmates, Vanda and Young to produce the three- part epic Evie, the standout track on Stevie Wright’s comeback album, Hard Road.
The studio line-up was an extension of the Marcus Hook Roll Band line-up – George Young on bass, Harry Vanda, and Malcolm Young on guitars, John Proud on drums and Warren Morgan on piano. Not surprisingly Evie began life as three separate songs but during rehearsals the emotional arc and complementary narrative of the three songs became obvious, the only problem would be how to market a single that would eventually run for eleven minutes!
The suite comprises Part 1 Evie (Let Your Hair Hang Down) which was an empassioned rocker evocative of the Easybeats Good Times, focused on love and lust and gave fair warning of what was to come from Vanda and Young via George’s siblings AC/DC in the future. Part 2 Evie was a sensitive piano ballad charting the euphoric good times of the relationship, while Part 3 Evie (I’m Losing You), laments the breakdown of the relationship with a gritty, bluesy, finale to complete the emotional rollercoaster of a ride that Evie takes the listener on.
This song and the album from which it was lifted, Hard Road, restored the former Easybeats front- man to chart prominence. There is a moving connectivity, and obvious synergy, about all three parts of Evie, which make it a truly absorbing musical odyssey, Malcolm Young and Harry Vanda traded impressive lead guitar solos and George‘s bass guitar was legendary. But each component is unique and can also be enjoyed quite separately as well, such is the skill and craft that Vanda and Young brought to their compositions, and the sensitivity and control that Wright brought to his vocal treatment of each component of the song.
At a live Rocktober Concert of the Decade staged on the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House in 1974, Stevie delivered a trademark incendiary performance of this song to one hundred thousand adoring fans, backed by members of Sherbet – Garth Porter (keyboards), Alan Sandow (drums) and Tony Mitchell (bass), La De Da guitarist Rockwell T. James (aka Ronnie Peel) with exemplary harmony vocal backing by Chrissie and Lyndsay Hammond (Cheetah). Stevie delivered what would be a farewell performance of amazing energy, vocal dexterity and control, he appeared lean and fit in his faded denims and white shirt, the glowing, clean-shaven face of the teenage star had been replaced by a neatly-trimmed full- face beard, he was now a seasoned veteran, and his post-Easybeats prospects seemed bright.
Evie was the only eleven minute- plus single to reach #1 anywhere in the world at the time, it charted for 26 weeks, and was the #3 biggest-selling record of the year. The album Hard Road was also a big hit, climbing to #2 in June, the old firm of Vanda, Young and Wright were back in business, and they set to work on Stevie’s follow up album, Black-Eyed Bruiser, but Stevie’s drug dealers were circling, and his heroin habit was starting to detract from his live performances and promotion of this album overseas.